Problems and Issues in National Health Insurance

September 1, 1974

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Research Publication No. 30

Foreword For many years the Federal government has conducted a wide variety of programs dealing with specific medical problems and providing health care for certain groups. This role was greatly enlarged in 1965 with the adoption of Medicare and Medicaid, two broadly based programs to assist the aged and the poor. Among other effects, these new programs were largely responsible for a sharp rise in medical care prices.

Some observers hold that these high costs have placed adequate health care beyond the range of many persons. This problem, and other considerations, have led critics of the present health care system to call for a further extension of the national government’s role in medical and health care.

Since the early 1970’s many different plans for a national health insurance system have been proposed, and scores of bills are now before Congress, representing a broad range of approaches. Both executive and legislative leaders have recently underscored their interest ‘in early adoption of national health insurance. However, no consensus has been reached on certain important issues.

Developing a plan for national health insurance requires decisions and compromises on a host of confusingly complex questions. This study attempts to provide a comprehensive, though abbreviated overview of the major issues under discussion. It compares the salient features of the major proposals which have emerged to date, provides perspectives on differing points of view, and points up some of the broader implications.

Robert W. Schleck, Senior Research Analyst, was primarily responsible for the preparation of this study.


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